Author Interview: Kerry Fowers

Kerry Fowers was born in Ogden Utah and grew up in the small town of Hooper. He is an avid reader and loves the stories told by great authors through the ages. His first book, Divine Help, a mystery/suspense novel, appeared in 2012, and his second book, Divine Verdict: The Trial of The Butcher, just became available. He is at work on book three. He is married Elizabeth—the love of his life—and they soon will begin yet another adventure: foster parenting!

When did you first discover you wanted to become a writer?

I first discovered I wanted to be a writer when I was living in Oklahoma City with my ex-wife. She said she liked the way I wrote and said I should try writing a book. So I did. After that, my writing was on and off through that year and I really didn’t get back into until I got married to my current wife. I attended a writer’s conference and met a ton of other authors and that is was inspired to finish my first book and continue writing other books.

How did you come up with the idea for your first book?

The main plot to Divine Help came to me as soon as my ex told me I should write a book. I put some of my experiences I had into this book and the rest just came.

Tell us about your writing habits.

My writing habits are kind of abnormal. I do most of my writing at night while I am at work [as a security guard]. It’s quiet and I can think easier and have less distractions. I usually turn on my muse music and go to work. I usually take breaks here and there and if I get stuck, I usually start watching a movie or bounce ideas off my buddy I work with.

Have you got another book coming out? What is it about?

Yes, my second book in the Divine Verdict series is out now. This book is about the trial of the bad guy in book one, although there are a lot of other things that happen leading up to the trial. Right now I have 10 books planned for the series. Currently I am working on book three, Divine Witness. Stay tuned to my social media sites and my blog for more info on book three as it becomes available.

Where do you see yourself as a writer in the next five years?

I see myself in five years as a better author. I also hope to have at least five more books out by then.

What advice would you give to writers who are just starting out?

The advice I would give to writers who are just starting out is first, go to as many writer’s conferences as you can. I learned so much from the ones I went to and it put a fire under me so I could complete my first and second books. Also I recommend to friend as many authors as you can on Facebook so you can ask questions and get answers. I have learned a lot from the other authors I have as friends on social media.

Here is where you can contact Kerry on social media: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn. You can also find him on his blog and website.

Author Interview: Holly Bowerman

Holly Bowerman has always found joy in helping others. She has a BS degree in nursing from Weber State University, has spent most of her career in geriatric nursing, and is currently a hospice coordinator. Because she loves helping others, she feels driven to support and help those who want to improve their lives. She wants to share what she’s received through her own healing process, to help others not merely survive but to thrive! “As you heal your life,” Holly says, “You empower yourself to be the author of your own life story. This is my passion!” Holly lives in Utah with her dog Chancho.

1. Tell us about the book you are writing and what inspired you to write it.

I’m just putting the final touches on my book titled, Say What You Need to Say: Speak Your Truth. Heal Your Life. For the past two years I have been on an incredible journey of self-discovery and healing. When I first started my journey I began by writing a blog and the results of that are the contents of my book, with a few modifications.  I was simply trying to make sense of what was happening in my life. I had experienced that feeling of having the rug taken out from underneath me. My life had started to feel like a series of unfortunate events and the culminating moment was in February 2011 when my mom committed suicide. Just as I was trying to heal from the loss of my mom, only a few months later, I found myself filing for a divorce. What compounded everything was the fact that when my mom died our relationship was, as I described it, “a mess.” I couldn’t comprehend how I would ever find peace with my relationship with her or how I would live with the wounds I felt deep in my heart. Over time, however, and through writing on my blog, I have found the peace I was looking for and not just with my mom, but with life. It has been an incredible journey.  What’s even more surprising is that through this process I discovered that my mom is one of the greatest spiritual teachers of my life. My purpose for writing this initially was to help me, but my purpose in sharing it is to help anyone who may be struggling to pick up the shattered pieces of their life. I like to think of it as a “blueprint” for healing your life. I hope in reading it others will also find courage to go on their own journey and even share their own experiences. I strongly believe with all my heart that we all have a story and each one of them matters.  I also believe that to start the healing process, we must give our lives over to God. One of the most profound truths I have discovered through this process is this: God is not waiting for you to become more “spiritual” to heal you, He is waiting for your permission.

2. If you had just one message for the world, what would it be?

Heal your life to write your own story.

3. What encouragement do you have for those who are discouraged?

As I mentioned before, I strongly believe that our lives are meant to be a success story. I say this despite many life experiences that have felt contrary to this statement.  Everything we are given in life can be used for our benefit if we will allow it.  No matter what the circumstances, there is always reason to have hope. Not everyone’s life path will unfold the same way, but each person’s path has a very important purpose! Don’t ever give up because you never know what is just around the corner!

4. How can people reach you to get your help?

I have a business website dedicated to my new purpose of helping people find healing. The web address is www.successstoriesllc.com. My contact information is listed there for those who are interested in meeting with me one on one. For those who just need a little pep talk or emotional boost, I have two blogs I manage with inspirational thoughts and stories that can be found on my website as well.  I look forward to hearing from you!

Author Interview: Shawna Draper

Shawna Draper is the author of three books where she shares her miraculous journey from a childhood of abuse to healing. Her uplifting message focuses on the wonderful Christian neighbors who helped her to learn that it was possible for others to actually love her and gives people hope that, no matter how bleak their life may seem now, or how traumatic their past has been, it is possible to heal and find joy and happiness.

For those who would like to read her story, her books My Tears Fall Inside, The Silent Cries, and Hear My Cry: Writings From My Soul are available at ShawnaDraper.com. Ebooks are available on Amazon.com.

1. What motivated you to write your three current books?

For many years, the only writing I did was to occasionally write in my journal. Later, I began to see a therapist and he was concerned because I hadn’t cried for over 10 years, even though I was dealing with very traumatic things. The result of those blocked emotions was physical pain, such as severe chest pain. The therapist encouraged me to find a way to get the pain outside of my body and suggested writing as a possibility. The next time my chest hurt, I wrote four poems in an hour and the pain went away. Over the ensuing years I shared a poem or two with a few people and each of them asked me if I would please publish the poetry. I realized that my story needed to be told and that the poetry alone would not really tell the whole story. So I wrote my story in two books, My Tears Fall Inside, and The Silent Cries, and published the poetry in the third book, Hear My Cry: Writings From My Soul.

2. Did you think you would be a writer at a young age or did your “calling” come to you later in life?

I never thought I would be a writer when I was young. When I was in my mid-thirties I was going through a difficult healing process and began writing voraciously in my journal. During the nine year healing journey, I wrote over 10,000 pages in my journal. About three years into that healing journey I had a very strong impression that my story needed to be published. Within thirty seconds I knew that there would be three books, and I even knew the titles of each of them. It felt like a powerful “calling” from God.

3. If you could share any message with the world, what would it be?

My therapist once told me the abuse I suffered was the worst thing that could happen to a person in this life. He said this because I not only lived through physical and emotional torture, but also mental and spiritual torture through intense brainwashing. With that in mind, I want people to know that no matter how difficult or painful your life may be at this time, you can come out on the other side and lead a happy and successful life.

4. Do you have more books in the works?

Not at this moment, but I never say “never.” Right now I am focusing on speaking to as many groups as possible sharing an uplifting message of hope, healing, and God’s love. I am also writing regularly in my blog.

5. What advice do you have for a new writer just getting started?

Write! Write! Write! The more you write, the better you will get at expressing what you would like to say. Don’t be afraid to begin because you think your writing isn’t “good enough.” Don’t waste your time comparing yourself to other accomplished writers. Each of them also had to start somewhere. Realize there will always be other writers that are better than you are, but don’t think that because your writing style isn’t the same as someone else’s, that it isn’t good. Try to learn everything you can from other writers and be humble enough to be able to accept advice.

6. Was it worth the effort?

Yes, mostly because I feel I have done what God wanted me to do. It also makes it worth the effort whenever I receive emails, or cards, or read Amazon reviews from those who have read my books, letting me know that my books have changed their life for the better in some way.

If you would like to hear more of Shawna’s story, listen to a recent interview here.

Author Interview: Amy Harmon

Amy Harmon knew at an early age that writing was something she wanted to do, and she divided her time between writing songs and stories as she grew. Having grown up in the middle of wheat fields without a television, with only her books and her siblings to entertain her, she developed a strong sense of what made a good story. Amy has been a motivational speaker, a grade school teacher, a junior high teacher, a home school mom, and a member of the Grammy Award winning Saints Unified Voices Choir, directed by Gladys Knight. She has written five novels: Running Barefoot, Slow Dance in Purgatory, Prom Night in Purgatory, the New York Times Bestseller, A Different Blue, and coming October 20 [2013], Making Faces.

1. Tell us about your start as a writer.

I started writing full-length novels about eight years ago. Not because I had any definite plans for publishing, but because it was just something I wanted to do. I have always been a writer, but prior to my first novel, I wrote song lyrics and poetry more than anything.

2. Why did you decide to publish your novels independently rather than through a traditional publisher?

My youngest son was born with a facial deformity that is fixable, but it requires ongoing, expensive treatment. My oldest son started really struggling with his health around the same time, and our medical bills started really mounting. I knew I had to do something to change our circumstances. I didn’t have time to wait or time to waste. I researched self-publishing and put my first two books out on Kindle in April of 2012, not knowing anything but the bare minimum. I don’t know where the confidence comes from, but I guess it’s more “blessed assurance” than confidence. I really felt like I was led in that direction.

3. How do you market and promote your books?

I don’t. Ha ha. Seriously, someone told me that the best marketing strategy is just writing another book. My fifth book, Making Faces, comes out on October 20th (my birthday). That means I have published five books in a year and a half. Obviously, I didn’t write all those books in a year and a half, but with each book, I’ve gained new readers and new momentum. Facebook has been my best friend for marketing. I try very hard to interact with as many bloggers as I can and to always be available for interviews, etc. I always respond to messages from my readers. There are outlets like Bookbub and other book promotion sites that are also very helpful.

4. Now that your books are getting national and international attention, have traditional publishers approached you?

I have a very well-respected agency, Foundry Media in New York, and that developed right before I hit the New York Times bestsellers list in June. A Different Blue has been picked up by a publishing company in Italy, which is exciting, and I have had some interest from traditional publishers, but I write romance that isnt typical, which makes me harder to place. My books tend to be cleaner, yet not clean enough for Christian publishers. I suppose I straddle that line, which I believe has given my books very broad appeal. They don’t turn off the non-Christian reader, yet they don’t offend those who like their reading material less graphic.

5. What catapulted A Different Blue to the New York Times Bestseller list?

Again, I really don’t know. I had published three books in quick succession and had created a little reader base, but A Different Blue, my fourth book, grabbed the attention of some bigger bloggers who read it, loved it, and really put it over the top. Two months after it came out, I put it on sale, and it just exploded. The sale wouldn’t have worked if the book hadn’t already grown legs, but A Different Blue hit not only the New York Times list, but also the USA Today list and the Wall Street Journal list. It was absolutely the most awesome, humbling experience of my life.

6. Tell us about your upcoming novel Making Faces.

Maybe because I have a child who has a facial imperfection, I am sensitive to what people go through Making Faces is a story about war, disability, beauty, and most of all, love.  Here is the synopsis.

Ambrose Young was beautiful. He was tall and muscular, with hair that touched his shoulders and eyes that burned right through you. The kind of beautiful that graced the covers of romance novels, and Fern Taylor would know. She’d been reading them since she was thirteen. But maybe because he was so beautiful he was never someone Fern thought she could have…until he wasn’t beautiful anymore.

Making Faces is the story of a small town where five young men go off to war, and only one comes back. It is the story of loss. Collective loss, individual loss, loss of beauty, loss of life, loss of identity. It is the tale of one girl’s love for a broken boy, and a wounded warrior’s love for an unremarkable girl. This is a story of friendship that overcomes heartache, heroism that defies the common definitions, and a modern tale of Beauty and the Beast, where we discover that there is a little beauty and a little beast in all of us.

7. Who does your book covers? They look great.

Well, me mostly. My nephews and nieces are on my first four book covers. I had a photographer take the pictures and then I used Amazon’s CreateSpace Cover Creator to do the covers. My photographer added the title and my name to the photo I liked for A Different Blue, and then I uploaded it to a template on CreateSpace’s Cover Creator. The latest cover [for Making Faces] I had someone design for me. I picked a picture I liked from Shutterstock, an online photo site, and had the cover artist do her thing with my input.

8. Who are some of your hero authors?

I greatly admire people like Lucy Maud Montgomery (Anne of Green Gables), Beverly Cleary, Judy Blume, Jane Austen, because they made me fall in love with books. But I also love Stephenie Meyer because she inspired this little Mormon mom—she made me believe if she could do it, I could too. I also like Dean Koontz: I think he’s a master, even though I don’t usually care for Sci-Fi. I like historical fiction and love the intelligence and study it takes to write books like Herman Wouk’s Winds of War and War and Remembrance. I loved both of those books.

9. What advice do you have for discouraged writers?  

Just keep writing. Really. Don’t expect to sell thousands of copies with your first book. I gave away thousands of copies of my first book through Amazon’s Kindle Select program. My goal was just to gain readers and recognition. And don’t wait until you “know everything” before you take the leap. I cringe a little at how green I was, but I’m grateful for my ignorance too. I didn’t know it couldn’t be done.

Author Interview: Justin Foster

I met Justin Foster at the Utah Publicity Summit in August where he gave a high impact presentation, to put it mildly. Justin is a brand strategist and the co-founder and chief marketing officer of Klowd.com. After working in corporate sales, he co-founded two marketing agencies and a tech start-up. Justin is also part of Price Associates, an elite team of leadership performance consultants.  He is the author of Oatmeal v Bacon: How to Differentiate in a Generic World.  His second book, Human Bacon: A Man’s Guide to Creating an Awesome Personal Brand, will be available late 2013. Justin and his family live outside of Boise, Idaho.

1. What made you decide to write Oatmeal v. Bacon?

Three things: I saw boring brands pretending to be interesting (often egged on by their ad agencies). I saw the emerging trend of social media and realized it would fundamentally change the traditional rules of branding. I saw my generation (Gen X) getting stale, fearful, and boring.

2. Why do you think branding is so important to companies and professionals?

Two reasons: When you have a brand, you have competition. Competition for dollars, mind space, attention, etc. is at an all-time high. Therefore, brands desperately need differentiation. A brand is the outward manifestation of an inward culture. And culture creates innovation, products, stories, etc. that can’t be copied. Ergo, a great culture is the ultimate brand differentiation. A full circle!

3. If you could go back 15 or 20 years in your career, what would you do differently? 

Reach out and find mentors sooner. Plus, learn more skills through formal education.

4. If you could teach a class to new business students, what would you tell them?

I would tell them if you bring unconditional love (or passion) with unconditional standards (commitment) to any endeavor, you can’t help but be excellent. So if you can’t find something or someone to love and can’t commit to an idea or venture, then you aren’t ready to be in business.  Secondly, I would tell them that until you own your education, then someone will own you. So have a strategic plan for learning for the rest of your life, not just formal education.

5. What advice do you have for someone who wants to write a book?

Have absolute clarity about why you want to write a book and what results you expect.

6. Are you writing a new book? If so, tell us about it.

Yes!  I’m releasing Human Bacon: A Man’s Guide to Creating an Awesome Personal Brand in December.  It’s primarily directed towards men over 30 (and the people who love them).  The intention of the book is to help men over 30 stay relevant and have tools to compete with Gen Y and Millennials.

7. Tell us about product SlideKlowd.

I’m proud to be a co-founder of SlideKlowd! SlideKlowd is an audience engagement tool that allows presenters to share slides, push polls, and surveys, and respond to comments and questions via the audience’s smart devices in live events.  It’s the first true audience engagement platform on the market.  The science behind SlideKlowd: measure the attention of the audience, elevate their attention and emotion, convert emotion to data and behavior.

8. What is the key to success in life and business?

Love and commitment backed by a healthy level of self-worth and friends and mentors that feed your strengths and starve your weaknesses. And good coffee 🙂

As you can tell, Justin has something to say. I can personally recommend his book—I have a well marked up copy myself. His message is unique and hopeful—especially for men who are mid- to late-career—and that comes across when you meet him in person. He has helped a lot of people become more aware of their personal brand, and how to make it sizzle.

You can follow Justin on Twitter or Facebook.